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Picture Westminster from London Eye

London with kids (about being the ultimate tourist)

by Emiel Van Den Boomen

Family selfie subway London

We are in London!

We spent 3 full days in this fab city with a GoWithOh apartment as our temporary home base (more about that later). We loved the vibe of the city: the monuments, fish & chips, the traditions, the typical English weather, the famous Underground, the swarms of tourists following each other from one highlight to the other…. it’s exactly what a world city should be.

Big Ben with red bus London

For our kids the city was a treat too. To see the iconic landmarks for real: the London Eye, the Big Ben, the red double-decker busses and the typical phone booths (some of which have been turned into WiFi hotspots!).

But please don’t make the mistake to try to fit in everything into your planning. Forget it, you will not be able to see everything in London during your first visit. The city is just too big! Make some plans but don’t worry when time runs out. It’s important to relax and just enjoy whatever happens to you in this legendary city!

Relaxing after busy day London

Visit London with kids

So what are our tips when you plan to visit London with your children? As you can imagine it’s almost impossible to list them all as we haven’t seen everything that London has to offer…yet. We will try, but I also want to invite you to leave your own tips in the comment section at the end of this post.

London Bridge at night

1. Visit the landmarks in the evening.

Piccadilly Circus, the London Eye and also the Tower Bridge: they make a great evening destination. It was so fun to see how our daughter tried so hard to get a good selfie with the famous Tower Bridge in the background….

Taking selfie London

2. Being the ultimate tourist

It could not be avoided…being the ultimate tourist photographing phone boots, red busses and guards with funny clothes. We actually had to wait in line to get into one of these phone boots, really! But we waited patiently…overcoming our initial signs of shame…

Classic picture London phone booth

3. Meet the cool Guards.

You will meet the famous guards at Buckingham Palace, the nearby residence of Charles and Camilla, but also close to Downing Street where you find the Horse Guards (yep, they are the ones on horses). Impressive to see them walking up and down, trying not to smile and probably also wonder why the UK government doesn’t pay them a bonus for being such an essential tourist attraction….

Horse Guard London

4. Up the London Eye!

This amazing ferry wheel is a real must. I know, it’s horribly expensive to buy a single ticket, but if you buy online you at least get a 10% discount.

Picture Westminster from London Eye

And it might even get better for you. Online they offer family tickets with 20% discount. That special price made us decide to go for it! Regrets? No way, the views are amazing! One tip: don’t spend your money on fast track tickets. We bought a standard ticket and had to wait for only 15 minutes. No problem!

From the London Eye

5. Hamley’s Toy Shop

If you are in the area of Oxford Circus and Regent Street, pay a short visit to Hamley’s Toy Shop. The personnel is hyper active (and funny) and it kind of reminded me of the huge toy shops in New York City. We did actually meet Queen Elizabeth on the 3rd floor…in Lego.

Queen Elizabeth in Lego London

6. Relaxing in the park

The parks….wow, the parks! Never seen such beautiful and well-maintained public parks as in London. They look great, but I promise you that you will also need them very badly! Your legs will need a well-deserved rest after walking miles and miles from St Paul’s to Tate Modern, the Shard and on to Westminster Abbey. No matter which park you choose, Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James’s Park: all are beautiful!

Relaxing in park Lonon

7. Tired of walking? Hop on a bicycle!

If you are tired of walking, do a bicycle tour! Just read my latest post about our bike tour in London with Baja Bikes.

Bike tour London

8. The art of London

One of the best things in London: many of the important museums offer free entrance! Museum of Natural History, Tate Modern and the British Museum, maybe more. In the British Museum our daughter was flabbergasted to see the famous Rosetta Stone! The stone with ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs dating from 196BC drew lots of attention! She just learned about this historical piece at school and had no problem to literally push other people away to get the best picture. Go Girl!

Rosetta stone British Museum

How to use public transport

Buy yourself an Oyster card! It’s actually a smart card which holds pay as you go credit for the underground, busses, DLR and some rail services. Kids travel free or at a discounted rate! Check this website for more information on traveling with kids. Next to an Oyster Card you can also choose for a Travelcard, giving you one day of travel for a fixed price.

Our GoWithOh apartment

GoWithOh offers accommodations across top European cities. It’s all about authentic, hand-picked apartments with a really nice touch. We stayed with them in Barcelona and Florence and also in London we enjoyed our apartment where it was all about the fabulous views! We decided not to stay in downtown London. After walking the streets of London for a day we thought it might be a good idea to have an apartment in a totally different place. A more quiet place where we could wind down a bit.

Apartment London

Our apartment was situated close to the O2 arena on the North Greenwich peninsula. The views from our apartment were superb! We could see the O2 arena, but I personally loved the views on Canary Wharf (London’s own Manhattan) the best.

Sunset London

Canary Wharf London

And don’t forget the Emirates Air Line cable car that carried passengers across the Thames day and night. There were small boats and because the sea is so close to this part of the Thames, you have a real low and high tide experience with the sound of waves rolling in. Who would expect all this in London!

Emirates cable car London

It’s a 10 minute walk from the apartment to the Underground station of North Greenwich (Jubilee Line). That line took us directly into the heart of the city, within 15 minutes. There were two supermarkets close by with a great choice of food for breakfast and/or dinner. Our kids actually loved to prepare our own dinner in the apartment. After a couple of days such a place really becomes your home!
London is a fab city! It’s huge so make sure to plan a bit in advance, at least if there are places you definitely want to see. And don’t forget: take time to relax!

Park London to relax

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Farrah May 25, 2014 - 19:09

Fun post Emiel! Ann and I were there just before you I think. I’m thrilled with your new apartment rental suggestion- as I LOVE those, and prefer them over a hotel any day.

Emiel van den Boomen May 25, 2014 - 19:14

Thanks Farrah! I remember your London pictures passing by in my feed. Such a fab city, so completely different from other European ones.
And about apartments, I’m with you. Don’t forget to contact me for the discount code whenever you are ready to book with GoWithOh.

Jenna Francisco May 18, 2014 - 16:38

How fun! I can’t wait to take my kids there one day. My dad lived in London when I was in my early 20s and I had so much fun staying with him. It’s a great city, and I also loved the parks.

Emiel van den Boomen May 21, 2014 - 08:56

Hi Jenna, I didn’t know you were familiar with London via your dad. It will be so much fun when you return to the city…


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